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The Friday Five: 5 Most Significant Years in Basketball Gaming

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five lists what I feel are the five most significant years in the history of basketball gaming.

2019 is upon us, and as always, I’m hoping that it’ll end up being a fantastic year for basketball gaming! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a lot of enjoyment out of the 2018 releases for the next eight or nine months, and then get our hands on even better titles to close out the year. While the success of basketball games ultimately rests with their respective developers, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that we can have as a community. As such, it’s important that we speak up with constructive feedback, so that we can do our part in making 2019 a big year on the virtual hardwood.

There have been quite a few milestone years for basketball video games over the past three decades. They’ve marked significant improvements within the genre, through the release of many memorable games that have gone down as classics. Of course, there are also years that have been significant in terms of basketball gaming for far less positive reasons. As we tip off a new year and hope for the best when it comes to the future of basketball gaming, I feel there’s value in looking back at the road that hoops games have travelled. After all, it’s essential that forthcoming games not only build upon the success of their predecessors, but also avoid some of their pitfalls.

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Monday Tip-Off: Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood

Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood (NBA Jam: On Fire Edition)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on what I’ll be doing on the virtual hardwood these holidays.

With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close and Christmas Eve upon us, I’m in the mood to kick back with some gaming on the virtual hardwood…and maybe the virtual blacktop as well. While I’ll be spending time with family, going away with friends over New Year’s, and of course preparing future content for the NLSC, I’m looking forward to just relaxing with one of my favourite hobbies. With no less than four current hoops games out at the moment, the holidays make the process of juggling several titles a little bit easier.

Being that it is one of my favourite hobbies, basketball gaming is something that I’ve come to associate with the holidays. The school holidays were a time when my cousin and I would run franchise games in NBA Live 2000, replay the 1995 season in NBA Live 95, and defeat and play with every team in NBA Jam Tournament Edition. These days, I don’t have as long of a break and do have a few more responsibilities to get back to, but I’ll still have time to hit the virtual hardwood. The question is: what will I focus on playing as I wind down 2018? These are my current basketball gaming plans for the next week or so.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Games Messed Up Player Appearances

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five lists five times that basketball games noticeably messed up player appearances.

Developing basketball games – or any video games, for that matter – is harder than a lot of people realise. It bears mentioning, as some gamers do go overboard in their criticism and suggest that making a flawless game is a simple task. In our modding community, we have a bad habit of denouncing the art teams in particular. It should be noted that it’s a lot easier to mod a finished game than it is to create one in the first place, and that individual modders aren’t under the same restrictions when it comes to spending a lot of time on a single player face, or other art assets.

With that being said, there are times when there have been notably unusual mistakes or unimpressive results, particularly when it comes to player appearances. I’m not just referring to player faces that don’t look as realistic as we’d like, though there certainly have been some noteworthy examples in that vein over the years. However, there are times when player appearances have been messed up in ways that go well beyond a cyberface that looks a little off. Be it an oversight in development, some kind of technical limitation, or another cause entirely, here are five times that we looked at a player in a hoops game and noticed that something definitely wasn’t quite right.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam TE PC No Points Challenge

Alonzo Mourning dunks in NBA Jam Tournament Edition PC

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking on a retro basketball gaming challenge with the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

It’s been far too long since I made a video feature, despite my intention to produce more video content this year. Better late than never though, as I had a fun idea for this week’s Wayback Wednesday. Whenever I played NBA Jam Tournament Edition solo back in the day, I tended to play with Tag Mode off, and scored most of the team’s points with the player I was controlling. However, playing point guard for our Pro-Am squad in NBA 2K has given me a taste for racking up assists, which left me to wonder: can I win a game of NBA Jam TE with my CPU teammate scoring all of our points?

I fired up my old favourite, and gave the No Points Challenge a shot. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Catch it here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video, and while you’re there, be sure to subscribe! With any luck, I’ll be able to produce some more videos in the not too distant future. I’ll probably also look to upload some excerpts from the NLSC Podcast – which will also be returning soon – so stay tuned for that. I may also tackle some other retro basketball gaming challenges for future Wayback Wednesday features, so if you have any suggestions in that regard, feel free to post them in the comments below!

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The Friday Five: 5 Features That Are Older Than You Think

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five features in modern basketball games that are older than you may realise.

We’ve seen some really cool features in basketball video games over the past couple of generations. Extensive historical content, brilliant presentation, and innovative approaches to modes, have all continued to push the basketball gaming experience further and further. Not every idea pans out, and there are always some of us who prefer an old school approach when it comes to certain features, but the amount of innovation and creativity is still very impressive. Of course, not all of those concepts and features are necessarily brand new ideas.

As I’ve discussed in many Wayback Wednesday features, there was an impressive amount of innovation in several early basketball video games as well. Modern tech has allowed developers to push the envelope even further, but it’s interesting and sometimes surprising when we look back and see that certain features were attempted many years ago, with varying degrees of success. That isn’t a bad thing, as good and creative ideas should be revisited when the technology allows them to be even better, perhaps even the way that they were originally envisioned. Those original attempts do deserve credit though, as they demonstrate that some features are older than we think.

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The Friday Five: 5 Weird Moments in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five moments in basketball video games that were somewhat weird.

Most video games have their weird moments, mostly because none are immune to glitches. Any game with random events, real physics, or other elements that allow them to be somewhat organic and dynamic will probably yield unusual results from time to time. In basketball games, we can also see weird results with the sim engine or strange moments when the AI breaks down. It’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced those oddities and have some stories to swap. I’m not talking about those kinds of moments, though.

No, I’m talking about the weird moments that were actually intentional on the part of the developers, or are the fallout of something that happened during the development of the game. Even if they’re working as intended, they’re still weird. I’m also thinking about weird moments that we’ve been able to create ourselves due to a design quirk that lends itself to an unusual situation. Some of the moments I’ve listed here are interesting oddities, some reflect a lack of attention to detail, and some are hilariously bizarre. With that being said, please enjoy what I feel are five rather weird moments in basketball video games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Time to Light the Fire on a New NBA Jam

A roster update added Kyrie Irving to NBA Jam: On Fire Edition

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on why it’s time EA Sports brought out another NBA Jam game.

Although I’m a long-time fan of sim-oriented basketball games, I’m also a big fan of NBA Jam from back in the day. It’s something that I’ve mentioned several times on the NLSC Podcast, and it’s likely quite evident from all the times that I’ve covered a topic related to NBA Jam in Wayback Wednesday features. When the possibility of a brand new entry in the series was seemingly hinted at earlier in the year, I compiled a list of things that I believe a new NBA Jam game should have. As much as a new NBA Street game would be great to have, I’m still partial to seeing another Jam title.

Not only do I believe there is still a market for the game, but it feels like the time is ripe to bring back NBA Jam. The success of the original NBA Playgrounds last year has rejuvenated interest in the genre, though it arguably never went out of vogue in the first place. More importantly, we now know that its sequel – freshly renamed NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 – will be published by 2K Sports. With NBA Playgrounds joining the “2K family“, I’d love to see EA Sports resurrect the classic arcade property that it owns the rights to. With 2K going all in on an arcade hoops title in addition to their long-running sim game, it’s time for EA to light the fire on a new NBA Jam.

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Wayback Wednesday: Investigating NBA Jam TE’s Ratings

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the ratings in classic NBA Jam games, specifically the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

While playing College Slam for last week’s Wayback Wednesday feature, I noticed something interesting about the individual player ratings. Since the generic players can be edited, there is a cap on their ratings to prevent you from maxing them out at nine in each category. Interestingly, the cap varies from player to player, which basically ensures that at least one player stands out as the star of the team with better all around ratings or high ratings in a few categories, while other players are capped at a lower amount of ratings points, establishing a hierarchy and balancing the squads.

Thinking back to some of the unusual ratings that I’ve noticed in the original NBA Jam games, I began to wonder if a similar approach had been taken in those titles, and whether it could account for some of the ratings that seemed too high or too low. I fired up the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition to make a few calculations and comparisons, and what I discovered was quite interesting. There does seem to be a method to the ratings, and I’m not sure if it’s ever really been explored, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: College Slam

College Slam Title Screen

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at College Slam.

College Slam is a 1996 title that a lot of basketball gamers may not remember, if indeed they’ve ever heard of it. I personally wasn’t aware of it until years later, since as is the case with all college basketball video games, it wasn’t available in PAL regions. Essentially an NCAA version of NBA Jam, it was developed by Iguana Entertainment and published by Acclaim, the companies who brought NBA Jam to home consoles and PC. Unlike NBA Jam, it wasn’t released in arcades, and never achieved the same level of popularity, largely due to its more limited release.

In many ways, College Slam is a re-skin of NBA Jam with NCAA licensing, but that is selling the game a little short. It did introduce a few new features that set it apart from its NBA licensed predecessor, and make it an interesting game to revisit. If the 2003 release from Acclaim is the forgotten NBA Jam, then College Slam is surely the forgotten spin-off. It’s another game worth remembering however, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Favourite Secret Characters in NBA Jam

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at a few of my favourite secret characters in classic NBA Jam games.

January 14th marked the 25th Anniversary of NBA Jam, the game that truly set the tone in terms of the arcade basketball experience. In addition to celebrating its silver anniversary, NBA Jam has also been in the news as of late due to the possibility of a brand new game being released. Additionally, in a recent interview with Shack News, Tim Kitzrow confirmed that creator Mark Turmell still has the rare version of the game that includes Michael Jordan and Gary Payton. While there are several legal roadblocks that must be cleared, Turmell is investigating the possibility of releasing that rare treasure in celebration of the game’s anniversary.

As a long-time fan of the series, I’d love to see a new NBA Jam game, as well as the release of the rare version of the original featuring MJ and The Glove. It’s a situation we’ll keep an eye on, but in the meantime, it’s always fun to look back at the games that have already been released. I’ve posted a couple of retrospectives on NBA Jam Tournament Edition in previous Wayback Wednesday features, so this time I wanted to focus on a specific element of the original games: their secret characters. They’re arguably as iconic as the high flying dunks, being on fire, and “Boomshakalaka!”, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Things a New NBA Jam Needs to Have

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of things that a new NBA Jam game needs to have.

Tim Kitzrow’s Tweet confirming that a deal for a new NBA Jam is “in the works” comes as promising news for those of us who love the long-running arcade basketball game series. While we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves until a new game is officially announced, it’s good to hear that EA Sports apparently has interest in making further use of the trademark. The 2010 reboot was a solid and somewhat underrated game, maligned due to its association with NBA Elite 11. On Fire Edition meanwhile was one of the best, if not the best, arcade hoops titles released to date.

It’s been over six years since OFE came out though, and while it was nice to get a new arcade game in the form of Saber Interactive’s NBA Playgrounds, we need a Jam for the current generation. Hopefully a deal will get done and a new game will be in the pipeline, but if that happens, there are a few things it will need to have. The downside of NBA Playgrounds is that it’s light on features, and in some respects, old school in a way that doesn’t hold up. A new NBA Jam game needs to avoid those shortcomings, as well as some problems that have presented themselves over the course of its own lineage. Here are a few suggestions on how that could be achieved.

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Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting NBA Jam Tournament Edition

Alonzo Mourning in NBA Jam Tournament Edition

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking another look back at one of my favourite arcade basketball games, NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

When you talk about titles that older basketball gamers are nostalgic for, NBA Jam will invariably be one of the most popular games to come up. It basically set the standard for what came to be known as arcade basketball games, with its over-the-top, high-flying dunks, relaxed approach to the rules of the sport, and simple gameplay. The original NBA Jam was a hit in arcades and with its home ports, appealing to basketball enthusiasts and more casual fans alike. It’s since spawned sequels, spiritual successors, and more than a couple of imitators with varying degrees of quality.

The original game is considered a classic and for good reason, but personally, I’ve always preferred its sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition. It’s a game I looked back at in the second ever Wayback Wednesday feature, around this time two years ago. Back then, I provided a few off-the-cuff thoughts on the game over some footage I’d been sitting on for a few years. I enjoyed doing that and it was a fun way to start getting into creating some video content, but I’ve always wanted to revisit NBA Jam Tournament Edition with a more fleshed out retrospective. That’s what I’m doing today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Referee in NBA Live 2000

Referee at Tip-Off in NBA Live 2000

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the addition of a referee in NBA Live 2000.

On this day in 1988, the NBA decided to add a third referee to officiating crews, a change that went into effect the following season. Referees are often unpopular figures in any sport, and the NBA has seen its fair share of officiating controversies over the years. Whether it’s some of Joey Crawford’s antics, free throw discrepancies, or other bewildering calls, I’m sure we can all name an incident involving a referee that makes our blood boil. The officiating in basketball video games tends to be more consistent – that’s how it’s programmed, after all – but until NBA Live 2000, EA’s games lacked an actual referee on the sidelines.

It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal now, as we obviously expect to see more than one referee on the sidelines of contemporary basketball video games. At the time however, it was a significant addition to the presentation in NBA Live. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NBA Jam 2K17 Now Available (Super Nintendo Mod)

NBA Jam 2K17 Logo

Exciting news, NBA Jam fans! Millertime2325 has completed his NBA Jam 2K17 mod for the Super Nintendo version of NBA Jam Tournament edition. The mod is available to download here over on his blog.

It features all 30 NBA teams (including New Orleans, Toronto, and Memphis) and 117 of the top players in the league, with rosters accurate as of January 1st, 2017. You’ll also find NBA Legends such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and a couple of other secret players in the spirit of the original game.

I’m hoping to get a video review of the mod done as soon as possible, but in the meantime, the release of NBA Jam 2K17 has been picked up by Kotaku. Millertime2325 has also put together a launch trailer, which you can watch below, or check out here on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded video.

It’s a fantastic mod for a classic arcade basketball game, so I highly recommend checking it out. Further information and previews can be found in this thread in our Forum, so be sure to stop by and thank Millertime2325 for all his hard work.

Speaking of thanking Millertime2325, if you’d like to show your appreciation for NBA Jam 2K17, he’s asking if people would consider making a donation to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. A cancer survivor himself, he’ll be running the Boston Marathon in April this year, in an effort to raise $10,000 for the cause. You can read more about his story here, and make a donation here.

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The Friday Five: Best Arcade Basketball Game of Each Generation

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

Since I offered up my picks for the five best sim basketball games of their generation in last week’s Friday Five, this week I thought I’d focus on the arcade games. While there are sim heads who won’t touch arcade basketball games, and conversely more casual sports gamers who greatly prefer them to the sim titles, there are a lot of people who have a healthy appreciation for both styles. I definitely count myself as someone who has enjoyed both types of basketball games over the years, and as such, I have my own picks for the best arcade hoops title in five distinct generations/eras.

As with last week’s list, I’ll emphasise that these picks are only my opinion, and it’s not my intention to present them as infallible, definitive, or indisputable. I’d like to think that I have an informed and reasonable take on the subject, of course, but lists like this are intended to start the discussion, not end it. I’m certainly interested to see if some of you have a different take, and if so, what your picks are. With that being said, let’s once again tip things off with the basketball video games of the 16-Bit era and earlier, and take it right through until the current generation.

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